Continuous fiber thermoplastic (CFT) materials are used in a variety of markets such as transportation, sporting goods, industrial goods, aerospace and ballistic, which have been the market drivers in the recent years, helping gain widespread acceptance in the marketplace across all regions.
Continuous fiber thermoplastic market to reach US$191.8 mln by 2017, at a CAGR of 8.6%, as per Research and Markets. Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics (CFTs) have a history of about 25 years and it differs from short fiber reinforced thermoplastics such as LFRT and GMT in terms of fiber length. CFTs include a variety of products, including unidirectional prepregs, fabric based prepregs, narrow tapes, commingled fibers in roving and fabric forms, sheets, and rods. Historically, CFTs were used in niche applications in aerospace and defense market. But in recent years, the market has exploded in automotive, sporting, transportation, industrial and other applications. Demand has been driven by a variety of aerospace, automotive and truck applications. However, CFTs are even finding their way into furniture, fastener, medical, marine and other applications adding on to increase in use of thermoplastic composites by Airbus and Boeing and other commercial aircraft manufacturers. The CFT market has experienced significant growth during last 5 years and is expected to reach US$188.7 mln in 2014 with a global growth rate of 12% for the next five years. The critical success factor for material producers will increasingly be not only about developing new products at low cost. The report says that the most successful companies will be those that can develop application-specific, customer-focused solutions and have the ability to help their customers achieve long-term business objectives, such as increasing performance or lowering costs. The CFTs materials are at the growth stage on life cycle curve. Cost efficiency; time-to-market; and pricing are major factors in gaining customer confidence and increase market share. The biggest hurdles at manufacturers end are immature manufacturing base as compared to thermoset composites, high capital cost and weak material knowledge at end user level due to lack of material data base. That shows a high potentials and eager for innovation in CFTs market. To gain competitive advantage in this segment materials suppliers have to focus on growth opportunities through: new/improved applications; competence in process development and a customer oriented and innovation driven growth strategy. Among the main challenges of the market, reduction in gross margin and overall profitability may reduce R&D and further capital investment to increase CFT production that can pose as a big threat for further growth. Inter-material competition also possesses a great threat; innovations in new technology, fiber or resin formulation have the potential to change the dynamics of the market. The CFT materials can be formulated with glass, carbon of aramid fiber whereas polypropylene (PP), nylon, PPS, PEEK, PC, and PEI are the most commonly used resin systems, which increases the global demand. The main drivers for the automotive applications are cost reduction, weight reduction, and recyclability. These are environment friendly and increase the recovery of vehicles and their components.
The future of continuous fiber thermoplastic (CFT) market looks good with opportunities in aerospace and automotive industries. The global continuous fiber thermoplastics market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% from 2015 to 2020, as per Lucintel. The global fiber thermoplastics (CFT) market is expected to reach an estimated US$216.7 mln by 2019.
The major driver of growth for this market is increasing level of penetration in aerospace and automotive industries, largely to address the increasing requirement of lightweight, recyclable, and environment friendly products. In this market, glass & carbon fibers as major reinforcements and polyamide (PA), polypropylene (PP), polyetherimide (PEI), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), & polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resins as major matrices are used for making continuous fiber thermoplastics. Lucintel predicts that the demand for CFT is likely to experience a good growth rate in the forecast period supported by growing demand in end-user industries. On the basis of comprehensive research, it is forecast that aerospace segment is expected to show above average growth during the forecast period. Within the CFT market, the aerospace industry is expected to remain as the largest market by value and transportation industry by volume. The development of advanced aircraft models and new applications in the aerospace and automotive industry are expected to spur growth for these segments over the forecast period. North America is expected to remain the largest market shipment due to growth in demand from aerospace and automotive industries. Asia Pacific & Rest of the World is expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period because of increasing penetration of CFT in sporting goods, automotive, and industrial goods industries. Emerging trends in the global CFT market, which have a direct impact on the dynamics of the industry, include the development of new applications and collaboration of players in different nodes of industry. Cytec, Tencate, LANXESS, Owens Corning, Fiber Glass Industries and Polystrand are among the major suppliers of CFT.
The biggest challenge in the industry is relatively higher cost of CFT materials compared to competing materials. Further, CFT requires sophisticated equipment to apply higher heat and pressure for processing. Inter-material competition also has a great threat; innovations in new technology, fiber or resin formulations have the potential to change the dynamics of the market.